[ Taba Ajum ]
ITANAGAR, Jun 21: Arunachal Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) SBK Singh, who has been facing heat for quite some time now over the failure of the police during the anti-PRC agitation and in the MLA Tirong Aboh assassination case, in a candid conversation with this daily on Friday spoke on various issues, ranging from the Tirap massacre to the allegation of interference by his wife in the functioning of the police department.
A 1988 batch IPS officer, Singh took over the charge of the state’s DGP in March 2018.
Since the time he assumed charge, the state has been rocked by several high-profile incidents, including the violent anti-PRC agitation in February this year, violence during the assembly election, and the massacre of 11 people, including MLA Tirong Aboh, by suspected NSCN (IM) militants near Tirap HQ Khonsa.
Speaking to this daily, Singh strongly denied the allegation that he had scooted away to Delhi during the anti-PRC agitation, leaving his subordinates to deal with the riots.
“It is all concocted and totally false. There was a meeting at the ministry of home affairs (MHA) on 21 February. During a meeting held at the civil secretariat on 19 February, I had informed the chief minister about the MHA meeting. The CM had said the principal home secretary and the DGP could attend the meeting. Later, my tour was approved by the competent authority.
“I left for Delhi on 20 February after attending the Statehood Day celebration. Therefore it is wrong to say that I escaped from the scene,” he said.
The DGP said he was monitoring the situation from Delhi and rushed back to Itanagar on 23 February when the situation aggravated.
On the allegation of failure of the police intelligence in the Tirong Aboh assassination case, the DGP conceded that the police did not have specific prior intelligence about the date of the attack.
“We failed to collect specific intelligence about the date on which he was going to be attacked. But we had intelligence that he was facing a threat,” he said.
Singh, however, said it was incorrect to say that the police did not provide enough security to Aboh.
“We provide usually one or maximum two personal security officers (PSO) to MLAs and contesting candidates. But Aboh was provided with four PSOs. We knew he was under threat, and therefore more security was provided to him. All the PSOs were armed, and if they had reacted, maybe the situation could have been different. Why they did not respond is a point of investigation,” he said.
The DGP informed that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has formally taken over the case and is investigating the matter.
“During my recent tour to Khonsa, I met the NIA’s deputy SP and discussed the points of the investigations. Whatever support they need, the state police will provide,” he said.
Ever since Singh became the DGP of the state, there have been rumours and gossips about his wife, Sushi Singh, who is the chief advisor to the Arunachal Pradesh Police Welfare Society, interfering in matters of the police department.
The DGP trashed such talks.
“She is confined to working for the welfare of policewomen and does not interfere in the department’s affairs,” he said of his wife. “She has taken many initiatives and has been very active. That could be the reason for such gossip. But I don’t blame anyone in this regard. When a new thing happens, people do take time to accept the change,” Singh said.
The state police were clearly at the receiving end of the violent protests during the anti-PRC agitation and the assembly election. There have been suggestions that the morale of the police force is at an all-time low and the people of the state do not fear the law.
Responding to this, the DGP said, “The police personnel went through a tough time during the anti-PRC agitation and during the elections in Kurung Kumey and Kra Daadi districts. It was a period of stress for the police force. Our morale is not down, but we did go through a stressful time. The police force will regain confidence over time and continue to work for the welfare of the state.”
He also said it was wrong to say that the people of Arunachal do not respect the law.
“Earlier, people followed the traditional laws in the state, and they thought that was how things functioned. It will take some time for them to understand the new laws. This is a gradual process. The people of Arunachal have respect for the law but it has to increase,” the DGP said.
He added: “The first time I came to the state was in 1992, and I was immediately posted as the SP of Tirap. Then, from 2010 to 2012, I was posted as the IGP. I have seen the state grow from very close quarters, and I can confidently say that Arunachal is growing in a positive manner.”
He also said the state police learned several lessons during the recent upheavals.
“Learning from the anti-PRC agitation, the state government has decided to create an anti-riot force and also increase the capability of the police to deal with riots. We are also working to improve the traffic scenario in the capital complex. The present SP, Tumme Amo, has been doing a good job to tackle the traffic issue,” the DGP said.
It may be mentioned that under Singh’s initiative, the state police have launched a tourist police unit, the Arunachal Suraksha mobile app, and an online portal for receiving complaints, besides promoting 1535 constables as honorary head constables.